MADISON -- Lawmakers in Madison were once again burning the midnight oil Thursday night, March 15th. Thursday was the final day of the Legislative session, and their lengthy calendar included an overhaul of the board governing Milwaukee Area Technical College.
Republicans say the board needs some fresh blood. They want to add more representatives from the business community to the board.
Those who oppose making changes to the board call this a power grab and voiced their concerns at the Capitol Thursday night.
In the eleventh-hour of the Legislative session, opponents of a bill to shake up the MATC board traveled from Milwaukee to the Capitol. "They want to extinguish this model. They want to make it so it becomes history," MATC board member Peter Earle said.
MATC students, staff and board members say the current board is a reflection of the community it serves, including working class people and minorities. Earle feels the board is being punished for compromising with its union. "We manage our resources well, and we respect our unions. We value our teachers, and this is what they find intolerable," Earle said.
State Rep. Mark Honadel (R - South Milwaukee) introduced the bill that raises the number of area business representatives on the board from two to five. The board has nine total seats. Honadel says he believes the changes will keep the board up to date on industry needs. "It's time to shake up the MATC board. What they do for us is very necessary, however, sometimes they're a little bit behind. Certain technologies that we may be using in industry, they may be teaching lesser or older technologies," Honadel said.
The bill would also change the way board members are appointed. Right now, members are chosen by 20-plus school board presidents. Under the change, members would be chosen by four county officials. "I truly believe if you have a few more business members on the MATC board, they'll be a little more up to speed with what's going on in our economy, and we'll have our kids educated to get that job," Honadel said.
Democratic lawmakers assure people at the Capitol they won't let the bill pass without a battle. "We are going to continue to fight to make sure they don't break a system that works for all the people in the city of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County," State Rep. Sandy Pasch (D - Whitefish Bay) said.
With the way things were going Thursday night, it was not expected for the MATC board bill to come up in the Assembly until early Friday morning.
CLICK HERE to view a live stream from the Assembly in Madison.